The controversy with regard to the introduction of a motorised milk abisyegam (pouring) system over the Vel of Lord Muruga instead of the traditional method by the Batu Caves temple committee has somewhat riled up the majority of the Hindu community in Selangor and in parts of the country.
Many Hindu devotees have expressed their disappointment and frustration with the temple authorities for making a mockery of their belief and faith in the print and social media.
Hindu devotees prefer the traditional and religiously accepted milk abisyegam method to be retained by the Batu Caves temple. Many Hindus perceive the use of a motorised pump to perform the milk offerings or abisyegam for Lord Muruga and his Vel irreligious or sacrilegious.
However, the Batu Caves temple committee is of the view that the motorised abisyegam of the milk will help overcome the long queues and speed up the milk abisyegam process. In this way devotees, especially the elderly and children, do not have to wait in the queue for a long time.
If this is the true intention of the Batu Caves temple committee to introduce the motorised milk abisyegam system, I support this innovative initiative. However, I am still of the opinion that the temple committee should have first consulted the Hindu community and respected Hindu religious authorities like the Malaysian Hindu Sangam before introducing this modern method.
This unwanted controversy could have been averted had the temple committee discussed this sensitive matter with the Hindu authoritative bodies or the community.
The temple authorities should always take into consideration the feelings and sentiments of the majority of the devotees when introducing modern gadgets or methods to replace the ancient and sacred ritual practices for whatever reasons.
The Hindu public on the other hand should also be receptive to modern gadgets and methods if it helps to bring about a safer and convenient means of offering our prayers or vows in temples.
According to the Hindu scriptures chariots are supposed to be pulled by devotees or bullocks but nowadays we have accepted the use of motorised vehicles to pull our chariots through the streets during religious festivals.
There are so many other modern methods and gadgets been used in temples for prayers and rituals. When we are receptive to all these modern gadgets why are we making so much fuss about the motorised milk abisyegam system, which is also being practised in some temples in India?
Whatever it is, I am glad to note that the Batu Caves Murugan temple committee has been receptive to the Hindu devotees views and sentiments and has announced that devotees who wish to perform milk abisyegam (offering) in the traditional way can continue to do so and the temple authorities will have enough manpower to facilitate it.
Whereas those devotees who feel that they cannot wait for too long in the queue are allowed to use the motorised method to perform their milk abisyegam.
I hope now that the devotees can continue to perform their milk abisyegam vows in the traditional manner as usual, those who are urging a boycott of the Batu Caves temple and those who trying to politicise this religious festival should stop it. Hindus should put aside the resolved issue and work towards ensuring the smooth running of the Thaipusam festival at Batu Caves as a mark of our respect and reverence to Lord Muruga.